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Obituary: Adrian Brown – BAFTA-nominated, Emmy award-winning TV and theatre director

Adrian Brown. Photo: Giles Cole/The Terence Rattigan Society Adrian Brown. Photo: Giles Cole/The Terence Rattigan Society

Although Adrian Brown was a BAFTA-nominated, Emmy award-winning television and theatre director, the notoriety that surrounded his relationship with Terence Rattigan during the playwright’s 1950s’ celebrity peak followed him throughout his life.

The two had first met sitting beside each other at a student performance at Oxford University (where Brown was an undergraduate) and met again while Brown was working with the Marquis de Cuevas Ballet Company in Paris as a stage manager-cum-dancer. They became lovers over the ensuing decade and remained close until Rattigan’s death in 1977, Brown said to be the inspiration for the young, ambitious dancer Ron in Rattigan’s 1958 play Variation on a Theme.

Among Brown’s last theatre productions were the first, belated performance of the original version of Rattigan’s romantic comedy Less Than Kind, at the Jermyn Street Theatre in 2011 – a “meticulously nuanced production”, said The Stage. Touring revivals followed in 2012 and 2013.

While on national service, Brown began directing for the Combined Service Entertainment unit and when demobbed found work in regional reps in the late 1950s. By the decade’s end, he had moved into television, producing and directing the six-part drama Duty Bound in 1958. The same year, he directed Jeremy Kingston’s first play, No Concern of Mine, at the Westminster Theatre.

In the late 1960s, Brown began directing opera with the London-based, chamber-sized Opera Piccola alongside an Irish and British tour of Joseph Kesselring’s Arsenic and Old Lace. In 1969, he lured Hollywood star Veronica Lake to the UK to take the title role in a regional tour of Walter Wren’s family-business drama Madam Chairman.

He directed several Shakespeare productions at St George’s Tufnell Park in the 1980s, a tour of Alfred de Musset’s Caprice in 1992 and adapted and directed Antony and Cleopatra at the Courtyard, York Way in 1994.

Together with his partner Sean Garvey, he formed Planet Theatre Productions in 2009, winning a London fringe award for its debut production, Moliere’s The School for Wives, at the Gatehouse Theatre.

More recently, Brown adapted James Mayhew’s children’s book series as the musical Katie and the Mona Lisa in 2013 and revived it at the Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh in 2015.

On television, he produced and directed episodes of the BBC’s Saturday Playhouse and Sunday Night Theatre (including W Somerset Maugham’s The Noble Spaniard with Margaret Rutherford and Kenneth Williams in 1958), the long-running police drama No Hiding Place and pioneering medical soap Emergency – Ward 10.

He was nominated for a BAFTA for directing The Caucasian Chalk Circle in 1985 and won an International Emmy in 1987 for The Belle of Amherst, William Luce’s portrait of the poet Emily Dickinson, played by Claire Bloom.

Adrian Ronald Frederick Brown was born on April 30, 1929, and died on April 27, aged 89.

The Archive: Rattigan’s study of compulsion surfaces again

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